The return of high school sports has been widely welcomed in Saskatoon.
A survey completed by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Kinesiology and Saskatoon High School Athletics Association (SHSAA) found athletes, parents, teachers/coaches and officials agreed, the return of sports benefits everyone involved — improving the high school experience and mental health.
Saskatoon secondary schools athletics directorate (SSSAD) consultant Jud Heilman said getting back to competing is a great feeling.
“The excitement in the schools and with the kids — we have had an excellent return to sports. Our participation was up, our teams are full across the city,” said Heilman.
Heilman says over 12-thousand student-athletes in the Saskatchewan high school athletic association (SHSAA) in sports such as football and soccer in the fall semester.
With over 2,000 completing in football, volleyball, soccer and cross country in the SSSAD.
Tommy Douglas Tigers senior girls basketball head coach Jasmine Jay says getting back on the court allows students to be more involved in all aspects of school life.
“Having sports back in our school and extracurricular activities this year. It allows for a sense of community and for students to support each other,” said Jay after her team came out victorious 52-42 win over Evan Hardy Collegiate earlier in January.
Tigers guard Willow Tanton said basketball for many is an escape from life or even a bad day.
“It’s a mood lifter for the team,” said Tanton. “Bonding. A lot of the girls on the team are new. So, it helps create friendships for life.”
University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Kinesiology Professor Louise Humbert said youth and students involved with sports also get to feel a sense of in-the-moment connection, that can’t be duplicated by doing it virtually — like playing a video game.
“Participating in something that is not on a screen is the biggest difference,” said Humbert. “So, you are participating in real-time. Experiencing the highs and sometimes the lows and you are able to manage it.”
Walter Murray Collegiate athletics director and multi-sport coach Brian Thorstad said these sports are aimed to set youth up well after their schooling is completed.
“They get as much as possible out of it,” Thorstad adds. “They get to work as a team, get to excel for excellence, learn mental toughness, so many life skills that make them better human beings.”
The winter season of high school sports has recently resumed throughout the city, with sports such as basketball and curling, as teams battle for the top spot in their respective divisions and age groups.